“Pendu”-Style Khaana-Shaana at Pind Punjabi Dhaba
If there’s one thing common between the Punjabis and the Bengalis, it is, without a doubt, their love for food. For both these peoples, love and food are synonymous. And, the all-absorbing food culture of Kolkata has always embraced Punjabi cuisine with open arms. The city has a number of North Indian restaurants, and the newest kid on the block is Pind Punjabi Dhaba, located along Bangur Avenue, an area that’s growing as a food stop.
“Pendu”-Style Khaana-Shaana at Pind Punjabi Dhaba
Now, I’m someone whose first choice of cuisine is not always North Indian food. But, I happened to be at this restaurant for a bloggers’ meet, with my friends for Panch Phoron. It’s not just the name; everything from the décor to the food is profoundly Punjabi.
Punjabi Décor and Ambience
Even I had not known the name of the restaurant, and entered it, I’d still know that it’s a Punjab-themed restaurant. The décor reflects the essence and pride of the state, and in an interesting way. A section of one of the walls has been turned into the front of a very colourful truck. The ceiling, on the other hand, is studded with the pictures of famous personalities who hail from Punjab, from Bhagat Singh to Yo Yo Honey Singh. (I’ll keep aside my personal feelings for the latter.) To set the mood further, they have Punjabi songs on the loop – mostly modern pop Punjabi but THAT, for me, was a turnoff, unfortunately. but, other than the music western-Punjabi fusion beats and the picture of Honey Singh, the ambience and décor felt quite delightful and upbeat. For a Dhaba, though, it is less rustic than I had hoped.
Food At Pind Punjabi Dhaba
We tried various items at the restaurant, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. For starters, we had a veg platter and a non-veg one. We then moved on to a wide range of mains. Of course, there was Mithi Lassi, Green Salad and Roasted Papad to keep company.
Vegetarian Kabab Platter
The veg kabab platter included Tandoori Paneer Tikka, Hariyali Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Gobi, Veg Sheek Kabab and Stuffed Alu Tandoori. I pretty much liked the Cauliflower and Paneer items, especially the Hariyali Paneer. Each paneer cube was succulent and flavoursome, though the Hariyali Paneer was a tad bit over-seasoned. The Tandoori Gobi felt strangely chalky in the mouth, but the crispy batter and the taste made up for it. The platter comes with a large quantity of items, enough for a group to enjoy a nice snack, or to work up an appetite.
Non-Veg (Chicken) Platter
The non-veg platter consisted of Tandoori Chicken Tikka, Chicken Hariyali Tikka, Chicken Malai Tikka, Chicken Tandoori and Chicken Sheek Kabab. My inner shark announced its happiness on tasting this platter full of meat. I loved how the items on this platter tasted absolutely distinct from each other. What I particularly loved, however, is the Sheek Kabab. Most restaurants have the tendency to ruin Sheek kebabs, turning them into dry rubbery sausages. But, Pind Punjabi’s preparation had the right balance of flavours, and the juiciness of the minced meat was on point! Like the veg platter, this one, too, offered a large quantity. So, be careful before ordering as a starter, if there are just a couple of you. It can fill you up.
Having started (and almost been filled up) on a delish stock of appetisers, we then moved on to the mains. Pind Punjabi Dhaba served us five sides, including their special Tadka, and with them, we had Amritsari Kulcha, Masala Kulcha, Butter Naan, Garlic Naan, Butter Roti, Mutter Pulao.
Veg Handi –
A vegetable dish in a tomato-based gravy, the Veg Handi is not be confused with the Navratna Curry, because the authentic Navratna Curry is supposed to have a white, creamy sauce! Nor is the Veg Handi anything like the commonly found mixed veg dish in a red gravy, which we are often served in the name of Navratna Curry. It’s packed with authentic flavours from Punjab, and is a must-try for veg-lovers.
Paneer Pasanda –
Unique in its crafting, textures and flavours, this dish came in a tiny Kadai. And in the authentic Punjabi-style buttery gravy were paneer cubes, but not just any paneer cube! It has paneer and potato sandwiches – spiced potato between two layers of soft, melt-in-your-mouth paneer slices! It was a delightful combination of tastes and textures!
Murg Bhuna Masala –
I was starting to see a pattern in their presentation by now, and I’m not complaining. I felt, however, that its taste did not match up to its prettiness. It was good, but in an average kind of a way. After tasting their kababs and the other dishes, I was hoping that the one non-veg main we tried would floor me. But, sadly, this dish failed to impress me.
Methi Mutter Malai –
This dish has no meat. It has no paneer. It doesn’t even have a piece of vegetable. And, yet, this is one of the most heavenly things I have tasted recently! Every mouthful is a rich, creamy goodness, imbued with the beautiful flavour of fenugreek leaves. I’m not a big fan of sweet gravies. But, this one had such a lovely touch sweetness that I fell in love immediately! Honest confession – I could swim in it!
An easy-to-find Punjabi restaurant near Reliance Fresh in Block B of Bangur, Pind Punjabi Dhaba is quite an impressive place that pretty much lives up to its name, in terms of both ambience and food, especially for a new addition to the North Indian food scenario of Kolkata. It will need to up its game and help diners identify a USP on the menu, to beat the competition. And, I think it has the potential to do so, too! All in all, I’d recommend this place.